So, there you have it - from the Horses Mouth! And some fascinating little tales too!
The next mail I received read as follows - again with a few annotations by me!.....
'Hi ya Dave.
So you like anecdotes do you....well you be careful, you'll go blind.
Seriously here are some more (short) ones.
A very hot summer day and chuntering eastward on the DR with an 8 car Q stock in the evening peak. I'm an Upminster train with a Dagenham East reverser in front at Earls Court that I followed all the way to Aldgate East homes and then he put a Barking Met (now what is the Hammersmith & City) between us. So that means at least 6 minutes since the last through train. As a result we're packed out. Get stopped at West Ham eastbound homes and then stick to stick (Home signals and from signal to signal - 'stick' is the euphemism we use on LU for signals) until we come to a final stand in Upton Park platform. As we left Plaistow I could see a whole queue of trains in front of me so I expect a slow run. When we stopped at Upton Park the foreman told me there was a signal failure at Barking and they couldn't use the bay so everything was running into the eastbound main. So I gets out of the cab and am standing on the platform for some fresh air. All is quiet except for the pumps chuntering away on the train which stopped after a minute or so. I looks back along the platform and see the guard sitting on his doorstep having a quiet smoke (you could then). After about 5 minutes of this idyll with people looking out of the doors to see the problem a geezer half the size of a mountain (probably a docker) leans out of the second car and bawls at me like a foghorn "wassa marrer mate, 'as the effing 'orse run aht 'o breff ?" (Some things don't change, though now of course we have the benefit of the public address system.)
Now years ago the house magazine was called T.O.T. and there were a couple of amusing items printed in that. They both took place at Charing Cross (now Embankment) and concerned passengers. In those days trains used to reverse e/w on Sundays at that point and one such train ran in and the station staff went along hollering "all change". Well then, as now, you had your dim riders on board and despite the exhortations of the platform staff a man stuck his head out of the car and asked "Aldgate East?" The stationman came right back with "Aldgate East?......Nah, ALL GIT AHT"
Also at the same station a little Jewish gentleman wearing one of the old fashioned hearing aids the size of a transistor radio got off of a westbound and shuffled along the platform and accosted the porter (yerse, they was porters then) and said "vich vay to Golders Green" The porter told him "Down the escalator" the gentleman said "vot?" The porter tried again "Go down the escalator" ...."vot?" The porter went up a notch "ESCALATOR, ESCALATOR!!" Silence and a perplexed look. "Esk yer later?.. Vy?... I vants to know now"
When I came on the job I was a station guard at Northfields District (and I lived in Dagenham) and my first driver was a nice quietly spoken guy named xxxx (name deleted, to protect the innocent!) who lived at Fulham and left the job to open a chip shop I think. He once told me that he got into a bit of bother answering a passengers query. Apparently the incident took place when he was a guard himself and at Hammersmith eastbound. Just as he was closing the train doors and largish woman in a fur coat came up and said "I say my man what is the quickest way to county hall? (the old LCC headquarters). Xxxx, not liking being addressed as "my man" told her "on the back of a fire engine missus" rang the starting bell and left. He was taken off the train on the way back at Earls Court west and reprimanded for "disrespect to a passenger"
Oh, Happy Days !!!'
No sooner have I published these than another set of stories arrive in my Inbox!
Freight and Coal Workings on the District
This time it's to do with old coal and freight workings on the District line. My own books tell me that 'on 4th June 1971 the last steam hauled train loaded with waste materials left Lillie Bridge depot at 00:15 and trundled to Neasden. It was hauled by ex-GWR pannier tank engine purchased by LT in 1961 and numbered L90.' (Quote taken from 'The Story of London's Underground' by John R. Day and John Reed)
But these are the tales from Q8.....
To help you visualise the description around the Turnham Green/Gunnersbury area the following diagram (which is 'clickable') might be of some help. (Diagram courtesy of 'Harsig')
'I bet you did not know that coal and goods trains used to run in between District trains? So sit back and I'll try to describe the procedure.
As you leave Gunnersbury eastbound and cross over the junction you traverse round the bend until you come to the overbridge by Chiswick Park station. At that point there used to be a double track junction to the third leg of the "triangle" with the North London. This leg (on your left looking east) used to connect to South Acton/Willesden Junction and many years ago was electrified on the LT system for the old LNWR outer circle from Earls Court.
But I digress. Now coal trains from the north used to come round that leg bound for West Kensington goods. I'll come to that shortly. After coming round the leg onto the eastbound DR they'd pass under the overbridge and immediately after so doing would take a track that went straight ahead beside the westbound district. This track ran (non electrified) straight on until the two underbridges beneath the westbound District/Picc embankment. Then using the left hand arch (the right one was not used) they connected with the eastbound Picc. They then traversed the eastbound Picc until immediately after Turnham Green eastbound fast platform and cross left onto the "coal siding" which was situated between the eastbound Picc and the eastbound district where the wide gap between the tracks are now. This accounts for why the eastbound DR from Turnham Green kinks to the left a bit after leaving the platform.
The "coalers" (usually steam hauled by a full sized engine but sometime double headed by tanks) would go along the siding until immediately prior to Stamford Brook station and cross onto the eastbound District. Incidentally you may wonder why they did not use the eastbound District immediately after Chiswick Park overbridge. Well I believe that many years before the war they did but apparently there was some sort of contretemps with a coaler getting stuck in the tunnel there. Anyway the coal train would the pass through Stamford Brook station and trundle along the eastbound District to Ravenscourt Park and there be required to stop. If there was a District train preceding it was not allowed to go down the bank until the DR train had left Hammersmith on account that the wagons on the train were often unbraked. (By-the-by I was told the there were yellow distant signals for the steamers provided between Turnham Green and West Ken but I can't recall seeing any.)
The "Blackmans Express" as they were so called then, no racism intended or meant, then went cautiously down the bank through the covered way and Hammersmith and Barons Court stations until just west of West Kensington and stopped once more. Now at this point there was a junction to the right above the where the Picc goes "down the pipe". After crossing over the westbound District they went under the overbridge (still visible I believe) and into the goods depot behind West Kensington westbound platform and did whatever. Going west was simple compared. They would come out of the West Ken yard and along the WB District all the way to the aforementioned junction at Chiswick Park overbridge. All the track was in situ in 1966 but unused. As an adjunct to that there were two sidings between Barons Court and West Kensington. The eastbound (electrified) one was between the two IMR rooms on the left of the eastbound district. If West Ken yard could not accept the coaler they would stick him in there until they could. The westbound siding came straight out of the yard and ran parallel to the westbound until joining it just before Barons Court station. The eastbound siding was also used to get a dud District train out of the way if needed.
That deals with the coal at the west end of the line.
Now we'll come to goods at the east end. In the days before 1960 the District line controller "lost" you as you left Bow Road as then you came under the LMS controller at Fenchurch Street. As you reached the top of Bow Bank there was a double junction from the right with the LTS (C2C) which enabled their local trains to run east (down) via the DR road. Just before the girder bridge over the now DLR there was a signal right up hard against the bridge girders. If he had a goods coming up from Bow you would be stopped there and watch the performance.
Now some of those goods train were very heavy and required two engines and one could apparently hear them long before they were in sight. They would hove into view under the overbridge down below and slog up the left hand curve of the fairly steep bank where the flats are now to Bromley-By-bow station which joined the District where the IMR is now. Now there was a lot of fun on that bank. If the goods were single headed or not going fast enough when he started the climb he would stall before getting to the top. The procedure then was to roll gently back down for a distance and have another go. In the end they would succeed. While all this was going on you were sitting in the cab watching the entertainment. I was once told by an old driver that on one occasion the District driver fell asleep and was there for a while after the signal cleared and had to be woken up by the driver of a westbound train.
At another time the goods was making repeated attempts to get up the bank and stalling each time. After about the 4th or 5th attempt someone knocked on the centre car/cab door. When he opened it a man in the car said "do us a favour mate, wake us up when it's time to go to work tommerer" Anyhow once the goods was up the bank he'd go through Bromley Station and pass over the girder bridge over the canal. Then he'd come to the double junction with the LTS and cross over to there and come to a second double junction to the right which curved round to where the post office building is now. Then he'd proceed merrily on his way to the docks. I must stress that apart from the disused tracks I never saw any of these shenanigans but had them described to me in detail by the old drivers while on meal relief.
By-the-way in those days the track east of bow road was owned by the main line and their trains always got precedence. There was a mixture of Semaphore and colour light signals and a plethora of connections between the fast and slow lines. Another thing was that every station had a signal box and woe betide you if the oil tail lamp at the rear of the train was not alight. If it wasn't, the station starting signal would not clear until it was lit. You'd be standing there like a spare at a wedding until you realised why you were being held.
Didn't they have fun!!'
On the topic of the old LTSR (London, Tilbury & Southend Railway) connections with the District, there's a great book available on the topic entitled 'Fenchurch Street to Barking' by J.E. Connor. It's extensively illustrated with both photographs and maps and illustrates many of the details described above.